A Model Global Association

The president talks about a new emphasis on making IEEE a truly global organization

6 June 2008

In recent months, our objective to make IEEE a truly global organization has taken on a new emphasis. The enterprise-wide strategic planning process begun in early 2007—the IEEE Envisioned Future—has enabled us to agree upon a new, twofold vision statement: “To be essential to the global technical community and to technology professionals everywhere, and to be universally recognized for the contributions of technology and of technical professionals in improving global conditions.”

To accomplish this, the Board of Directors has set a three- to five-year goal for our organization “to operate as a model global association” that reflects country-based needs and sensitivities and geographically representative governance. An ad hoc committee established earlier this year is gathering data on our current performance in these matters. After the data are analyzed, the group will develop short- and long-term recommendations for the board.

But while discussing what IEEE must do to realize the goal of becoming a model global organization, we have come to understand that IEEE already reflects many characteristics of such an association.

  • Our organization serves more than 375 000 members in over 160 countries, with 43.5 percent located in Regions 7 to 10 (Canada; Europe, the Middle East, Africa; Latin America; Asia and the Pacific). In a trend that began in the early 1990s, Regions 8, 9, and 10 are growing at an especially rapid pace.
  • Each year, IEEE sponsors or cosponsors more than 850 conferences worldwide. At present, more than 40 percent of them are in Regions 7 to 10.
  • We have cooperative agree­ments with more than 70 national societies in 40 countries to enhance the professional growth of those countries’ engineers and technical communities. Many IEEE societies also have separate agreements with national societies and industry associations that promote additional joint activities in specific disciplines.
  • IEEE’s publication activities are globally renowned; we publish 30 percent of the world’s literature in our fields of interest. In 2007 more than 68 percent of the authors whose papers were published in IEEE publications were from Regions 7 to 10.
  • Users of IEEE Xplore worldwide downloaded more than 74 million full-text PDF documents in 2007, an average of 6.2 million documents monthly.
  • TryEngineering.org, a Web site designed to attract preuniversity students to engineering and technology, features a search tool that pinpoints accredited engineering programs in 23 countries. The site is available in seven languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.
  • Hundreds of IEEE members around the world are participating in the IEEE Teacher In-Service Program (TISP). Through their local sections, they develop and present technology-related topics to preuniversity teachers. Members have organized TISP workshops in Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, Peru, and South Africa, with more countries to be included this year.
  • IEEE is expanding its global activities in accreditation—agreed-upon educational standards—to include university engineering programs in China, Peru, and the West Indies. In 2007, IEEE and the China Association for Science and Technology cosponsored a workshop attended by 52 representatives from Chinese technical associations, universities, companies, and the national engineering education accreditation committee.

These are just a few examples of how IEEE is working to be a model global organization. But we need to accomplish much more, especially in making more services relevant to members and to enable all regions to participate in governance, especially on the IEEE Board of Directors. This year, only eight out of 31 board members are from Regions 7 to 10. We must also address such difficult issues as how to operate globally with limited resources, overcome the barriers to membership for people outside the English-speaking world, and become an internationally recognized force for technical professionals.

We need your ideas on how to achieve these ambitious but attainable goals. Send me your thoughts at terman.column@ieee.org.

Lewis Terman
IEEE President and CEO


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